Breaking In: How to Get Hired in Academic Research, and What Graduate Students Can Do Right Now by Dr. Eve Brank, JD, PhD
If you made it to our Student Committee panel at last year's AP-LS conference, you were lucky enough to hear Dr. Eve Brank, JD, PhD speak about ways to get hired in psychology and law. Dr. Brank is currently an associate professor of psychology in the Law-Psychology program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), and has served on faculty search committees as UNL as well as the University of Florida. She is also a good friend to the Student Committee, and the Treasurer for AP-LS. This blog entry is one of three authored by Dr. Brank, so be on the lookout for more great posts from her in the future!
In academia we perch daily on our three-legged stools of research, teaching, and service. Those three words are the categories in my google calendar—color-coded like they were different children’s activities. Some days, the whole day is yellow (my color for service), while others have a lovely rainbow of yellow, purple (research), and orange (teaching). The goal, of course, is to spend as much time and have as much impact as possible on purple—I mean, research. You see, although we sing, “Research, Teaching, and Service,” we face pressure to make the research leg of our stool to be much larger than the other two. And, not just any research. No, what is important are grants and peer-reviewed publications, and that is also what we want our job candidates to have.
What can a graduate student do to get grants and peer-reviewed publications? Like the
audience who attended the live session, I commend you for reading this and taking proactive steps now. If you are early in your graduate school career, then that is even better and I give you more commendation. By starting your research story early, you can make everything count. As an example, if you are taking a social psychology class that has a paper requirement, don’t pick some random topic for your paper. Instead, pick a topic that fits with your research or complements your research. In my lab we take this one step further and meet as a group to discuss all the students’ paper assignments for the semester. If we have a manuscript or grant proposal that needs a literature review and that topic fits one of the classes a student is in, then perfect! Two birds—one literature review draft. Also, be sure your conference presentations are turning into publications. Sometimes it takes a couple of presentations to make up a manuscript, but the goal should always be to have publications and not just presentations. Think of presentations as a means to an end. Presentations give you the opportunity for feedback (and sometimes collaborations) from colleagues outside your university, force you to make progress on a project, and provide you a reason to visit places like San Diego in March. Although I might be jealous of all the cool places a person has visited and presented their research, a long list of only presentations and no publications on a CV will not impress me.
What about teaching? Well, despite the universal sigh of relief at semester’s end when the
student parking lot is empty, we do prioritize teaching at large research universities. And, most of us actually like teaching and we want our new colleagues to like it and be good at it too. So, yes, you need some teaching experience, but don’t let it eclipse your research. The best advice I received about teaching was that my teaching record won’t help me, but it could hurt me. You need the teaching experience and you need to do it well – that’s the expectation. So, get some experience and it’s even better if that experience is in core classes that departments usually need people to teach.
Finally, how much service should you do? The truth is that service won’t get you a job. Faculty search committees do not say, “She doesn’t have any publications or teaching experience, but she planned the department picnic and served on the graduate student senate! Give this woman a job!” The best kind of service to do is the kind that advances your research or builds collaborator networks. There will be plenty of time when you have tenure to do service that fulfills your soul and allows you to give back to your profession-- trust me, I’m the one who got roped into – I mean volunteered to write this blog post aren’t I?
Ever wonder who is behind all of those #SomethingfunSunday posts? Well, wonder no longer. Meet Dana Formon, your Communications Officer. Dana works hard to keep you all up to date via our Twitter and Facebook accounts as just one of her many responsibilities on the Student Committee. On top of being a hard worker, she is very friendly and committed to our student members. Keep an eye out for her at the upcoming March conference!
What first got you interested in law and psychology?
My first interest in this field was actually when our Student Chair, Meghann Galloway, TA’d the lab portion of my Intro to Psychology course at Drexel University (for real!). On the first day of class she told us about her experiences interning at the FBI and I just remember being really interested in her experience and wanted the same for myself. With her help, I was able to join a forensic research lab on campus and it was history from there! I have just always found every aspect of this psychology-law really interesting, which was meaningful to me, so I decided to stick with it.
If you weren't in graduate school, what would you be doing instead?
I’d want to travel with either the Peace Corps or Remote Area Medical.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I used to be a part-time professional modern dancer, so I have a knack for anything related to physical activity (except playing DDR for some reason). I really enjoy doing half-marathons, full marathons, and multi-sport events…but I don’t know if you could consider them talents perse because I think anyone is capable of doing those things. :)
What is your favorite thing about being on the Student Committee?
The people I work with! I find that more always gets accomplished when you have a group in charge, and I love how we get together to share ideas and make fun things happen for AP-LS and especially the student members of AP-LS. Everyone on the committee always has great things to bring to the table and our fearless leader has a really great vision for how we can improve upon what the Student Committee does for it’s members.
What is your favorite thing about AP-LS?
I really like the networking opportunities you get. I feel like the AP-LS Conference is the one place where I can listen to a research presentation, get really excited, and then run up to the researcher after the fact and just start throwing around questions and ideas. I feel like our field at large is really interesting, and the people who do the really interesting research are always very helpful and wonderful to talk to. If you ask one question about someone’s research, chances are it’ll turn into an amazing 15-minute conversation and lots of potential for collaboration.
What is one of your professional goals?
I want to be able to tie my forensic interests into my hobbies. I love animals, and I love running…so a professional goal I have for myself would definitely be to either begin a K9 rehabilitation program in a correctional facility (since that’s already something some facilities do), or to start an exercise program or running club for offenders (or ex-offenders as part of a rehabilitation program). If I could achieve both, I’d die so very happy
Happy Monday, everyone! This week's newest blog entry is by Dr. Heidi Strohmaier, PhD. Coming from a traditionally forensic PhD program, Dr. Strohmaier matched to her first choice site at the Tampa VA for the 2014-2015 internship year. Here she offers general internship application tips as well as some advice on how to change gears if you are looking to match at a site that differs from your previous focus area.
Applying for internship is stressful. There is no way around that. Taking a methodical approach and practicing some good self-care can make this exciting and overwhelming process substantially more manageable. I matched to the general track of a large VA hospital for my predoctoral internship and am now a postdoctoral fellow in primary care/health psychology at a large metropolitan teaching hospital. Although I specialized in forensic psychology during graduate school and was tempted to pursue a more traditional forensic route for internship, I ultimately decided it was in my best interest to seek a generalized internship program to prepare me for a flexible and well-rounded career. Below are a few tips I believe helped me maintain my sanity and achieve success in the dreaded internship match process. Although much of this feedback is broad, some of it will be particularly relevant to those interested in applying to internship sites outside the forensic realm or to sites that otherwise represent a change in direction from your graduate area of focus:
Good luck and take care of yourself! You have come so far and are almost at the end of your graduate training. There is a bright light at the end of this tunnel. Congratulations on getting this far.
About the Editor:
The American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychology Association) Student Committee is composed of elected student leaders representing the interests of our student members.